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Luther 2017 – 500 years since the Reformation in Germany

January 17, 2018 Visit Germany No Comments Email Email

In 2017 the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) will be putting the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the centre of its global sales and marketing activities.

The ‘Luther 2017 – 500 years since the Reformation in Germany’ campaign is the highlight of the Luther decade. It focuses on Martin Luther as the symbol of the Reformation and as a brand ambassador for Germany.

As Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the GNTB, explains: “Germany is firmly established as the number one cultural destination for Europeans. We want to use our activities for the Luther decade and the Reformation anniversary to add a new dimension for international travellers with an interest in culture and religion, and to present a modern image of Germany and consolidate Germany’s position in the international market.”

Wartburg Castle in Eisenach ©GNTB/photographer: Christof Herdt

Wartburg Castle in Eisenach ©GNTB/photographer: Christof Herdt

Long-term approach with strong partners

The legacy of the Reformation touches the lives of over 400 million Protestants all over the world. Since the start of the Luther decade in 2008, the GNTB has promoted the upcoming anniversary in key source markets with strong links to the Reformation, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Hungary, the USA, Canada and also South Korea. To tie in with the ‘Reformation and Music’ theme, the GNTB highlighted the 800th anniversary of St. Thomas’ choir in 2012, and to accompany the 2015 theme ‘Reformation – Image and Bible’, the GNTB launched various initiatives commemorating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Lucas Cranach the Younger. In running these campaigns, the GNTB works together with the ‘Luther 2017’ coordinating office, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the tourism organisations of the federal states and the main towns and cities in Germany with historical links to Luther.

Multimedia activities promoting the key Martin Luther themes

Throughout the Luther decade, the Reformation theme has featured prominently on the GNTB website Within the Spiritual Travel section of the website, there is information on important locations in the reformer’s life, such as the three official Luther towns of Wittenberg, Eisleben and Mansfeld, the famous Wartburg Castle in Eisenach and destinations such as Torgau, Schmalkalden, Erfurt, Augsburg, Coburg, Worms and Heidelberg.

Culturally minded users can retrace important waypoints in Luther’s life in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, Hessen, Baden-Württemberg and RhinelandPalatinate on a clearly laid out interactive map. In addition, eight Luther routes, available in 30 languages, highlight important places in the reformer’s life.

Central marketing measures for worldwide communication

The GNTB is using the full spectrum of marketing communication methods to run the campaign. For example, it has teamed up with Nuremberg Tourist Information and Playmobil to design a miniature Luther figure, which is being used as a giveaway and as an eye-catching mascot for numerous other marketing campaigns. This figure is featured in an animated film that presents tourism-related facts about Luther in an easy-tounderstand format. In six 360° videos, the Playmobil Luther figure presents selected places from his life as sites of historical interest and as tourist destinations.

As well as press highlight tours with journalists from traditional media, blogger and influencer trips will focus on unusual places on the Luther routes and lead to them being promoted on all the relevant social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

Activities in key markets

In defined key markets, the GNTB is raising awareness for the campaign by running market-specific events and initiatives. For example, in the USA, the GNTB highlighted the Reformation anniversary as part of a major PR and social media campaign: during the main celebration for the Day of German National Unity at the ambassador’s residence, the GNTB presented an elaborate digital hologram of Luther in collaboration with Germany Trade & Invest. Other highlights included PR events at the opening of three exhibitions as part of the ‘Here I stand…’ project in New York, Atlanta and Minneapolis. In Switzerland, the GNTB launched a whole series of related cross-media activities in partnership with the well-known TV host and journalist Röbi Koller, who visited various Luther sites in Germany in 2015. This trip led to a report, a film and a roadshow through Swiss towns and cities.

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